• The Active Private Armies of Zimbabwe

    MDC-T supporters and others accused of being such camp outside the US Embassy in Harare on July 3. Post election violence had got so bad that they fled their rural homes to come and sleep in the open outside the embassy in order to avoid ending up looking like:


    ...........this victims of last year's election violence, Gift Mutsvungu, whom the MDC-T said "suffered" before he was killed

    Often, just a word from Mugabe suffices. In 1985, he told a rally in Chitungwiza: "Ngatichigoborai zvigobo zviri mumunda medu" - meaning, "Let us get rid of the tree stumps in our field. The next night, countless families in the cities were thrown out of their homes by masked ZANU PF supporters.

    Most had their furniture thrown out, the doors locked and their keys swallowed by ZANU PF supporters.

    Targets were supporters of Ndabaningi Sithole and Abel Muzorewa. There was a pile of Ndonga (Mwenje) and Dzakutsaku t-shirt at the local dump the by morning.

    Fast Forward to 2008, and the MDC-T has just trounced Mugabe at the March elections. As he himself said later at an Independence Day rally at Gwanzura Stadium, "Takanga taenda" - "We were almost gonners".

    Almost.

    Well-organised and coordinated had begun in the rural areas immediately after word got out that Mugabe had been defeated. Most people even in his own party, were to traumatised to recall that, according to the new electoral rules insisted on by Tsvangirai during the negotiations that had started in 2005, failure by either candidate to garner 50% would trigger a run-off.

    At the height of the terrifying April to June Presidential run-off election, just after the election results for March were finally announced, I was sitting just outside the Command Centre at the Rainbow Towers. Next to me was Bright Matonga, then Deputy Minister of Information. There was another gentlemen who only identified himself as "ZANU PF".

    Both men were dejected, you could tell from their looks. "ZANU PF" was complaining to Bright that the ruining party had gone overboard with violence in the rural areas. He cited the case of a young man in his village who had made something of himself and managed to build his father a rural store for him to earn income.

    The father was shopped to the marauding gangs of ZANU PF "Enforcers" as an MDC-T supporter and benefactor. They came for him in the middle of the night and by morning all they found was his mangled body.

    "Now this young man, who used to support us, is totally against us and says he is prepared to die any time, nothing will stop him from confronting ZANU PF. He is definitely not voting for us." This was "ZANU PF" speaking.

    Bright just stared into his beer and sighed now and again.

    Indeed, those marauding gangs of Enforcers are still on the loose. They still roam the countryside. They were never recalled. 

    There may well be over 2000 trained, professional fighting men scattered around Zimbabwe's ten provinces. JOC stipulated a "minimum" of 200 per province.

    At one village near Mrewa, these are the men who stood up at a school football pitch and fired AK47s into the air. They told the terrified villagers that they knew the area, since this was where they "operated from" during the liberation war.

    The message was straightforward enough and it was not hidden. They were told that these war veterans were going to camp out at that school until the election results were announced. If "you vote wrong, we will be right here and it will be the last vote most of you will ever cast."

    Zimbabwe was split into three "theatres" or "spheres of operations". Basically, these terms betray the fact that this was war.

    Each of the three theatres is commanded directly by a General. The fact that these armies were not disbanded or recalled after the June run-off means they are still roaming the countryside. In Mtoko, one of their camps is so well-known that even someone in Harare will be able to direct you there.

    Disturbingly, though, this also means that we have private armies, armed and on the loose out in the country. There is no formal structure they follow for accountability. There is no law that governs them, their law being the word of their Commanders. Which means they exist outside the law.

    Arms were handed out like candy on Haloween during the June run-off; that is how close the establishment thought we were to all-out anarchy and a resumption of war.

    Morgan Tsvangirai and the MDC-T have been kept at an arms distance by Mugabe and the armed forces precisely because they all (including Robert "The Solution" Mugabe) see this GNU or Coalition thingy as a hiatus, akin to the special "Christmas breaks in fighting" during the world wars, when enemies would shake hands and share turkey before resuming shooting at each other with deadly intent the next day.

    All ZANU PF see in this GNU is breathing space. Mugabe will be back. And his armies will be out there. Waiting.

    As soon as this Exlusive Government is pronounced dead, all hell is going to break loose in this country.

    This is perhaps the greatest fear the Prime Minister has. For Tsvangirai insists that he will not leave government only because he knows very well what deluge awaits the aftermath of the death of this Inclusive Thingy is.



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